Mar 10, 2011

Slide Masters - Elmore James

Mississippi native Elmore James was called during his time - and rightfully so - King of the Slide Guitar. Though I have nothing but respect for all the masters of old, I find Elmore my personal favorite of that era.

His slide playing is recognizable, with very powerful attack and a very distinguishable tone. What grooves his tunes is the conversation between his slide playing and his very strong vocal delivery.

I dub Elmo's style 'Little Richards meets Muddy Waters'. Here's a not so popular tune of his which nonetheless showcases his style perfectly:

His opening slide phrase, a trademark of Elmo which he opened many songs with, is so influential to later Blues and Rock 'n' Roll guitar that you can relate it to some of Johhny Winter and SRV work. Although Elmore will not play the complex phrases of the Texans, his Mississippian style obviously lays down the framework that others built on.

10 Facts about Elmore:

  • He was born one Elmore Brooks in Holmes county Mississippi in 1918
  • He played a modified, hollow body traditional acoustic guitar, which sounded like the more modern solid body guitars
  • He modified that guitar himself, during the time his was working in his brother's electrical parts shop
  • He is rumored to have played with Robert Johnson
  • He was a heavy drinker, often on stage
  • He made his own moonshine whiskey from an early age
  • He was an extremely fast and reckless driver
  • He married 3 times, never divorcing his 1st wife however
  • During WWII he joined the navy and took part in the invasion of Guam
  • He died of his 3rd heart attack in 1963, barely missing the revival of the blues during the 60's when many of the old bluesmen were rediscovered

Keep slidin' Elmo, u da man!

1 comment:

  1. 'Little Richards meets Muddy Waters'...